Religion, manners, culture. These three values are fundamental for Lasallian identity: the spirit of faith, zeal for service and communion in mission. The university instills in its students the right values and attributes that follow the path of the Lord. Manners represent good manners of behaving in society. The culture affirms that a good Lasallian has a great and deep love for the country.
These may appear to be mere slogans, but in my career I have been fortunate to have Lasallians as Patrons and Superiors who embodied these principles. Allow me to share my experience with Lasallian leaders who have impacted the lives of many.
Eduardo “Danding” Lucero was one of the people appointed by former President Cory Aquino. He briefly rehabilitated the Treatment Center Authority and reinvigorated the Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises of the time. He is one of only three to have received the DLSAA President’s Alumni Award. He was a tough boss, but dedicated. He was editor-in-chief of the official English student newspaper, The Sallian, and as president of the DLSAA for at least four years. When he passed away a few years ago, it was with great fanfare, despite his constant and dedicated volunteer service for decades.
Dr Philip Ella Juico was my dean at the time of the DLSU vocational schools, which ran the MBA program. He was a strong leader and was relentless in improving the quality of cases used in business school. Years ago, I assisted him in an ASEAN project which has borne fruit thanks to his hard work. He has also served the country in a variety of ways: secretary of the Land Reform Department, chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, and currently chairman of the Philippine Athletics and Athletics Association. Recipient of the TOYM Award for Government Service, Juico knows that advocating for good governance is not easy.
At the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), another Lasallian was my boss, Gil Buenaventura. From a senior executive at BPI, he served the government as President and CEO of DBP, which he successfully shifted from its cash orientation to its true mandate as a development finance institution. Another difficult act followed as CEO of RCBC as he recovered from the Bangladesh fiasco. Buenaventura preferred to just do his job without being in the limelight. He was results oriented and he was an empowering superior.
Another Lasallian took over DBP in the person of Emmanuel “Manny” Herbosa. His vision was to do more for Mindanao, for farmers and for small entrepreneurs. Despite his private banking roots, he embraced the need to ensure that DBP fulFifulfilled its mission for God and the homeland. Fittingly, the Association of Development Finance Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) bestowed on him the Outstanding CEO Award in 2021 for his “singular leadership, vision and accomplishments”.
I continue to meet Lasallians who are making a difference. Bangko ng Kabuhayan (BNK) is a small rural bank based in Pasig. Its president is the former Secretary of Energy and then of Finance, José Isidro “Lito” Camacho. While he was vice-president of Credit Suisse of Asia-PaciFic and is its CEO in Singapore, he also ensures that micro and small loans are given to budding entrepreneurs.
At the Philippine Business Bank (PBB), Rolando Avante, who holds a marketing degree from DLSU, is vice president and CEO. Avante sits atop one of the country’s most active and aggressive savings banks, already operating on a par with a regular commercial bank. PBB aims to be the bank of choice for the SME market segment, growing from two branches in 1997 to 165 branches today. Launched by visionary President Emeritus Alfred Yao, PBB has just implemented its new core banking system and aims to expand its reach through both traditional and digital solutions for its target customers.
The PBB leadership team is dotted with Lasallian talents. Consuelo Dantes, Human Resources Manager, followed MBA units at DLSU. Jose Maria Valdes, who oversees the new core banking solution, has a degree in Behavioral Sciences and MFIs. The head of the Corporate Banking Group, Eduardo Que, graduated from an MFI. Liza Jane Yao, General Services Manager, graduated in Accounting. She is also a key board member of the AMY Foundation, which helps send deserving underprivileged children to university.
DLSU aims to develop technically competent, humanistic and socially responsible managers and leaders. The country needs more as we recover from this pandemic.
Benel D. Lagua is the former executive vice president of the Development Bank of the Philippines. Holder of the AIM-MBM and Harvard-MPA degrees, he is a part-time faculty member of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business at De La Salle University.